Lower Hunter Freight Corridor

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Frequently Asked Questions

Please browse the answers below before contacting us.

Responses to Questions from Community Information Session 17 August 2021

Some technical difficulties were experienced during the first session so it was not able to be recorded. The LHFC team apologies for any concern this has caused. The second on 17 August 2021 has been record and can be viewed here

Section 7.11 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA)provides a strategic review of the potential future infrastructures impact on non-Aboriginal heritage. The recommended corridor passes to the north of the West Wallsend Colliery No.1 heritage site, which has been identified for future opportunities for renewal and to contain informal walking and cycling opportunities (Lake Macquarie City Council, 2020). The mining heritage park has been recognised through the constraint identification process and efforts have been made to minimise impacts on this significant area. Potential indirect impacts on nearby heritage items would depend on future rail infrastructure which will be considered during the next phase of design development.

A strategic noise study was performed as part of the project and this is summarised in section 7.5 of Draft SEA. This study identified that mitigations against noise impacts to existing community could be implemented which supports the protection of the corridor. Another detailed noise assessment will be undertaken when the project is in the development application / assessment phase. This phase will commence when the rail infrastructure is needed in 10 – 20 years. Transport for NSW will be required to prepare a State Significant Infrastructure Application which will be subject to community consultation and will be assessed by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment. Through this process, it must be demonstrated that operational impacts (such as noise) can be suitably mitigated or managed to required noise standards at the time of delivery.

The design of the future rail infrastructure will not be undertaken for sometime, however when it is required in 10-20 years it will be grade separated at this crossing. Grade separation of existing road infrastructure (such as The Broadway) will be achieved with either bridges over, or under crossings of the existing road.

We acknowledge that the ecology of the local area is important to the residents and have sought to minimise the impact to this by appropriate selection of a corridor which has the least impact to the ecology of the local area. In the development of the future infrastructure, 10 - 20 years in the future, important considerations for community use will be designed to enable the community to continue to enjoy the use of the area such as undercrossings at grade separated crossings of existing roads. The detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

Following the public consultation process, the recommended corridor and amendment to the Major Infrastructure Corridors (MIC) SEPP may be refined as a response to this consultation. All submissions will be reviewed and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) report and MIC SEPP amendment will be finalised to respond to key issued raised during the consultation period. A submissions report will be prepared and released to the public from Transport. DPIE will review the finalised Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to determine whether the protection of the corridor under the MIC SEPP should be supported. The SEA and proposed amendment to the MIC SEPP will be presented to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces for consideration.

An options assessment and multi-criteria assessment (MCA) was carried out to identify the recommended corridor option. Central connections were explored to determine this preferred option. Details can be found in section B1.6 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA). The Killingworth option was ruled out due to poor performance in the MCA in comparison to other options, with primary concerns around the engineering performance and community impacts. The criteria included freight movement, economic growth, community impacts, environmental impacts, integrated land use and transport and future proofing.

A strategic hydrology and flood modelling has been conducted as part of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA) study. The future rail line design will consider the detailed flood and hydrology modelling as part of the next phase of design development. This will ensure that no adverse impacts result to existing land uses and will be supported by a future environmental assessment and approval process.

Transport welcomes alternate views from the community.

The recommended corridor passes to the north of the West Wallsend Colliery No.1 heritage site, which has been identified for future opportunities for renewal and to contain informal walking and cycling opportunities (Lake Macquarie City Council, 2020) The mining heritage park has been recognised through the constraint identification process and efforts have been made to minimise impacts on this significant area. The proposed protection mechanisms for the corridor would not disrupt current land ownership or management arrangements. Land uses that are currently permissible would continue to be permissible, subject to consideration of the compatibility of the proposed use and the timing of the infrastructure delivery. Transport will be responsible for managing the land.

All questions raised at the consultation are being addressed and considered in the development of the project.

This project, within the vicinity of the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor, is assumed to be constructed and operational before the construction of any future rail freight infrastructure. The Richmond Rail Vale Trail (RVRT) is a project lead by Newcastle City Council. Transport will work with Newcastle City Council to ensure that the Lower Hunter Freight rail infrastructure project design minimises impacts on the future bicycle trail project. The elevation difference between the proposed level of the future rail line and the level of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail at this location ensures that there will be no impact. The future design and construction of the freight line infrastructure will address the operation of the rail trail at Lenaghan and Tarro where the two infrastructure projects cross to ensure continued operation of the cycleway.

The proposed corridor is currently out for community consultation alongside DPIE's Explanation of Intended Effects. Subject to the gazettal of the corridor, for properties that have been rezoned and where impacted owners experience hardship and are unable to sell, owners have the opportunity under the hardship provisions of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 to apply for early acquisition. This relates to the direct rezoning of land. Separate development approval is required prior to the delivery of the infrastructure. Before approval is granted, it must be demonstrated that the proposed operational impacts of the freight rail on surrounding properties and land uses will be appropriately mitigated and managed to the standards of the day.

Mitigation measures such as fauna underpasses would be required to maintain connectivity for terrestrial fauna species as part of future potential rail infrastructure in the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor. Detailed design measures outlining mitigations to protect to fauna resident in the areas which the LHFC cross will be detailed when the future rail infrastructure is required in 10 - 20 years. The detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

Grade separation of roads refers to the placement of roads at a different grade or elevation using tunnels, ramps, bridges and intersection. Grade separation design is used to improve traffic flow without stopping or slowing where roads, rails or paths cross.

The proposed corridor is 60m in width to accommodate a double track rail bypass of Newcastle's congested urban area. There are no proposed for shunting yards within this corridor. The strategic design and operational requirements of the infrastructure considered for this corridor are outlined in Chapter 3 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The construction of bridges over congested areas would result in significant and direct property impacts e.g. property acquisition and loss of residential properties and would not resolve the long term growth requirements of the shared passenger/freight rail network. The recommended corridor is a bypass of Newcastle's congested shared rail network and seeks to avoid residential lands and identified future residential growth areas to the greatest extent possible.

The recommended corridor avoids the township of Killingworth. The location of the corridor relative to the nearest residential dwelling in Killingworth is approximately 800 m.

The key objective for the future rail infrastructure is to provide a dedicated freight rail line between Fassifern and Hexham, bypassing Newcastle urban area. Separating rail freight from the passenger rail line is a NSW Government initiative to reduce network congestion on the rail network across Newcastle, and improve travel times and reliability for both rail freight and passenger rail service. The project objectives and benefits are outlined in sections 1.3-1.4 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA).

The noise mitigation along the M1 will be reviewed where the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor is in close proximity. Noise mitigation options will be further explored according to the standards at the time, when the project is needed in 10 - 20 years from now. At this time, further detailed design will be undertaken and as part of these detailed designs, project mitigations against noise will be developed to ensure that the project meets its obligations. The detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

The corridor has sought to minimise impacts to urban areas and identified growth areas to the greatest extent possible. When the rail infrastructure is required in 10 - 20 years, the detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

An options assessment and multi-criteria assessment (MCA) was carried out to identify corridor options. The long list of options were reviewed by the project team and other subject matter experts to identify suitable end-to-end options. The performance outcomes for each short-listed corridor can be found in section B1.12 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA). Transports welcomes the communities views on alternate corridors to the recommended corridor.

The corridor has sought to minimise impacts to urban areas and identified growth areas to the greatest extent possible. When the rail infrastructure is required in 10 - 20 years, the detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

The constraints analysis suggested options located further west of the existing M1 Pacific Motorway corridor are generally less feasible. This can be found in section B1.3 of the Draft SEA. The project team welcomes the communities submissions on alternate corridor options and will review the constraints again for any options proposed.

The corridor has sought to minimise impacts to urban areas and identified growth areas to the greatest extent possible. Transport welcomes alternate corridor options proposed by community as part of this consultation.

The objectives of the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor are to protect a corridor of land needed for future freight rail infrastructure and provide certainty over the future Lower Hunter Freight Corridor location to assist with the strategic and land use planning of the surrounding area.

The NSW Government is currently investigating fast rail connections between Sydney and Newcastle. Details of any future route are yet to be released. An indicate route for high speed rail has been nominally located to the east of the M1 Pacific Motorway. Given the current stage of investigations into fast or faster rail, the potential cumulative impacts cannot be identified at this stage. The progression of this project to the next stage of planning would need to consider interaction with the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor.

We acknowledge that the ecology of the local area is important to the residents and the recommended LHFC option has sought to minimise the impact to this by appropriate selection of a corridor which has the least impact to the ecology of the local area. In the development of the future infrastructure, 10 - 20 years in the future, important considerations for community use will be designed to enable the community to continue to enjoy the use of the area such as undercrossings at grade separated crossings of existing roads. The design of the future rail infrastructure will not be undertaken for sometime, however when it is required in 10-20 years, crossing of existing roads such as the The Broadway, Wakefield Road, and Killingworth Road will be grade separated at these crossings.

An options assessment and multi-criteria assessment (MCA) was carried out to identify corridor options. Southern connections were explored to determine the preferred option through this area. Due to mining and land use issues there is only one feasible option. These can be found in section B1.6 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA).

The corridor has sought to minimise impacts to urban areas and identified growth areas to the greatest extent possible. When the rail infrastructure is required in 10 - 20 years, the detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

The recommended corridor transects the northern portion of the West Wallsend Colliery which lies off Wilson Street. The constraints analysis suggested options located closet to the existing M1 Pacific Motorway corridor are generally less feasible. This can be found in section B1.3 of the Draft SEA. The project team welcomes the communities submissions on alternate corridor options and will review the constraints again for any options proposed.

The construction of bridges over congested areas would result in significant and direct property impacts e.g. property acquisition and loss of residential properties and would not resolve the long term growth requirements of the shared passenger/freight rail network. The recommended corridor is a bypass of Newcastle's congested shared rail network and seeks to avoid residential lands and identified future residential growth areas to the greatest extent possible.

A strategic noise study was performed as part of the project and this is summarised in section 7.5 of Draft SEA. This study identified that mitigations against noise impacts to existing community could be implemented which supports the protection of the corridor. Another detailed noise assessment will be undertaken when the project is in the development application / assessment phase. This phase will commence when the rail infrastructure is needed in 10 – 20 years. Transport will be required to prepare a State Significant Infrastructure Application which will be subject to community consultation and will be assessed by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment. Through this process, it must be demonstrated that operational impacts (such as noise) can be suitably mitigated or managed to meet the standards of the day.

Responses to Questions from Community Information Session 28 July 2021

The connection from Teralba Colliery along Cockle Creek was considered via Cameron Park to Minmi but was impeded by urban development. This can be found in section B1.5 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA). A Proposed Future Infrastructure Corridor Map can be found on page 14 of the Explanation of Intended Effects (EIE)

An options assessment and multi-criteria assessment (MCA) was carried out to identify corridor options. Southern connections were explored to determine the preferred option through this area. Due to mining and land use issues there is only one feasible option. This can be found in section B1.6 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA).

The development of the corridor alignments, and selection of the recommended corridor has avoided direct impacts on sensitive areas, such as homes, heritage and ecologically important areas where practicable. Co-location of the corridor with the M1 Pacific Motorway north of the Newcastle Link Road Motorway, for example, minimised significant impacts on ecological communities relative to other options outlined in Appendix B of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment. Opportunities to further avoid and minimise impacts impacts on vegetation would be considered during the next phase of design development.

Noise mitigation options will be further explored during the detailed design development stage of the project to ensure that impacts on residents are mitigated in accordance with the required standards.

The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor is a proposed corridor intended for a future dedicated freight rail link between Fassifern and Hexham to bypass Newcastle's urban area and achieve better outcomes for local communities and enable both freight and passenger rail capacity to grow. The future faster rail strategy is looking at a staged approach to achieving better passenger travel times between Sydney to Newcastle as outlined on the dedicated website A Fast Rail Future for NSW. Freight rail is proposed to be on a separate alignment to meet the efficient movement of freight.

The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor crosses to the south of the intersection of Wakefield Rd and The Broadway. The design of the future rail infrastructure will not be undertaken for sometime, however when it is required in 10-20 years it will be grade separated at this crossing.

The proposed corridor is intended for a future freight rail link between Fassifern and Hexham to bypass Newcastle urban area and achieve better outcomes for local communities and enable both freight and passenger rail capacity to grow. Urbanised areas and future identified urban growth areas were avoided to the greatest extent possible. The use of the proposed corridor for a future passenger train is not considered appropriate.

The proposed corridor is intended for a future freight rail link between Fassifern and Hexham to bypass Newcastle urban area and achieve better outcomes for local communities and enable both freight and passenger rail capacity to grow. Urbanised areas and future identified urban areas were avoided to the greatest extent possible. The use of the proposed corridor for a future passenger train was not considered appropriate.

The proposed corridor is 60 m in width to accommodate a double track rail bypass of Newcastle's congested urban area. There are currently no proposals for shunting or holding lines, nevertheless within this corridor the future detailed designs will need to also consider mitigation measures to protect adjoining land users to mitigate noise impacts. The strategic design and operational requirements of the infrastructure considered for this corridor are outlined in Chapter 3 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The proposed corridor is suitable for a double track railway with associated rail infrastructure, as outlined in Chapter 3 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment. Modelling undertaken for this project indicates that the infrastructure will be required in 10 - 20 years. The corridor width can accommodate the dual track and potentially additional tracks if ever required. Future growth in the freight rail task will determine infrastructure designs which would be subject to a future environmental approval process at that time.

Noise mitigation will be assessed when the project is needed in 10 - 20 years from now. At this time, further detailed design will be undertaken and, as part of these detailed designs, noise mitigations will be developed to ensure that the project meets the required standards to ensure residents are not adversely affected by the future rail operations.

An options assessment and multi-criteria assessment (MCA) was carried out to identify the recommended corridor option. Central connections were explored to determine this preferred option. Details can be found in section B1.6 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA). The Killingworth option was ruled out due to poor performance in the MCA in comparison to other options, with primary concerns around the engineering performance and community impacts. The criteria included freight movement, economic growth, community impacts, environmental impacts, integrated land use and transport and future proofing. Transport welcomes alternate views from the community. Please share these by way of a submission.

A strategic hydrology and flood modelling has been conducted as part of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA) study. The future rail line design will consider the detailed flood and hydrology modelling as part of the next phase of design development. This will ensure that no adverse impacts result to existing land uses and will be supported by a future environmental assessment and approval process.

The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor crosses to the south of the intersection of Wakefield Rd and The Broadway. The design of the future rail infrastructure will not be undertaken for 10 - 20 years when it is required but it will be grade separated at this crossing. Transport welcomes suggestions from residents as to how to further mitigate the impacts to residents of Barnsley as part of this consultation process.

The location of the corridor relative to the nearest residential dwelling in Killingworth is approximately 800 m.

The shortest distance from the residents in Homesville to the corridor is approximately 450 m. Detailed maps of the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor can be found in Appendix D of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The location of the corridor relative to the nearest residential dwelling in Bendigo Street, Barnsley is approximately 250m.

As described in Section 7.1.1 of theDraft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA), the recommended corridor is over 100 metres from Johnston Park at West Wallsend. The recommended corridor passes to the north of the West Wallsend Colliery No.1 heritage site, which has been identified for future opportunities for renewal and to contain informal walking and cycling opportunities (Lake Macquarie City Council, 2020)

In Section 7.5.1 of Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA), the strategic noise investigations are described. These are undertaken at a strategic level for the purposes of identifying and protecting land for a future infrastructure corridor. The future design of the project and mitigation measures would be determined in the next stage of project development in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements.

It has been recommended that a future environmental impact assessment would:

- Include predictions of operational noise and vibration levels at individual homes and other receptors

- Consider construction impacts in accordance with relevant legislation and guidelines.

These mitigations will be subject to the a further, future environmental approval process.

In Section B1.9 of Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA) it's noted that the recent approval and future development of the Wakefield Park Motorsports facility near Killingworth is a physical constraint to the corridor that the corridor planning has sought to avoid as much as possible.

In the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Section 7.1.1 it's noted;

The recommended corridor is over 100 metres from Johnston Park at West Wallsend. The recommended corridor passes to the north of the West Wallsend Colliery No.1 heritage site, which has been identified for future opportunities for renewal and to contain informal walking and cycling opportunities (Lake Macquarie City Council, 2020).

Section 6.3 of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA)

The recommended corridor avoids the existing Minmi urban release area, and is positioned on the western side of the M1 Pacific Motorway within Government owned land between the motorway and the Stockrington Conservation Area and Pambalong Nature Reserve. The proposed corridor is located approximately 235 m from the nearest residential property in Minmi.

Section 7.1.1 Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA)

At Holmesville, the closest residential dwelling is over 400 metres from the recommended corridor and is separated from the recommended corridor by bushland.

At Holmesville, the closest residential dwelling is over 400 metres from the recommended corridor and is separated from the recommended corridor by bushland.

The proposed corridor is currently out for community consultation alongside DPIE's Explanation of Intended Effects. Subject to successful consultation outcomes and gazettal of the corridor, the corridor of land would be rezoned for the future rail infrastructure. If, as a result of the rezoning of the corridor impacted property owners are unable to sell their property, have the opportunity under the hardship provisions of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 to apply for early acquisition. to apply for early acquisition landowners must be able to show that they would suffer 'hardship' if the acquisition of their land is delayed.

The freight expected to use the new freight rail bypass when it is constructed in 10 - 20 years time includes bulk exports and imports as well as commodities such as coal, grains, and construction materials, as well as interstate containers.

The potential for noise has not been modelled in detail given the strategic nature of the corridor identification and protection process. The purpose of the review is to inform the discussion of potential future noise impacts in relation to noise propagation and shielding impacts.

Appropriate environmental standards will need to be met by all operations on the line.

The upgrade of current infrastructure was considered in the early stages of development of the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor project. However, the constraints along the existing rail line, including proximity of residents and significant incompatibility of passenger and freight rail in the existing corridor through Newcastle, precluded use of this corridor.

Noise mitigation options will be further explored according to the standards at the time, when the project is needed in 10 - 20 years from now. At this time, further detailed design will be undertaken and as part of these detailed designs, project mitigations against noise will be developed to ensure that the project meets its obligations to ensure residents are not adversely affected by the future rail operations. The detailed designs for the future rail infrastructure will be subject to a further environmental assessment and approval process.

The Richmond Rail Vale Trail (RVRT) is a project lead by Newcastle City Council. Transport will work with Newcastle City Council to ensure that the Lower Hunter Freight rail infrastructure minimises impacts on the future bicycle trail project.

The location of noise barriers will be determined as the project development proceeds and appropriate noise modelling is completed. As part of the EIS noise modelling will be required along the length of the corridor and where predicted noise level exceed the levels allowed under the project approvals noise mitigation will be required. For location on the M1 outside of the project boundary residents are able to apply for consideration under the Transport for NSW Noise Abatement Program.

Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA) provides the following responses:

6.2

The recommended corridor is located as far as practicable from existing communities at Barnsley and West Wallsend, with consideration of the constraints of the mining operations (present and past), Killingworth substation and high voltage wires to the west.

6.3.1

The recommended corridor continues north avoiding operational and historic mine workings.

7.1.1

The recommended corridor is over 100 metres from Johnston Park at West Wallsend. The recommended corridor does pass through the north of the West Wallsend Colliery No.1 heritage site, which has been identified for future opportunities for renewal and to contain informal walking and cycling opportunities (Lake Macquarie City Council, 2020).

The next step following community consultation is to review community submissions and responding to those submissions. Adjustments to the recommended corridor may be made in response to these submissions. Subsequent to this, there would be a decision on whether to gazette the recommended corridor by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. The detailed design of the future rail infrastructure would be undertaken prior to when the project is needed which is likely many years from now.

The growth in freight and passenger rail movements through Newcastle requires that a future bypass of the urban area of Newcastle between Fassifern and Hexham as outlined in the DSEA is required. No single project such as the proposed future Wallarah 2 mine is responsible for this rail freight growth

All rail operators are required to comply with strict environmental requirements for dust management. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency regulates train dust compliance. Further information regarding dust and other environmental regulation in relation to trains is available on the EPA website.

The mining heritage park has been recognised through the constraint identification process and efforts have been made to minimise impacts on this significant area.

This was not seen as appropriate because of the primary constraints exist on the shared passenger/freight rail network between Fassifern and Hexham through the urbanised area of Newcastle.

Section 7.9 Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (DSEA)

Mitigation measures such as fauna overpasses and underpasses would be required to maintain connectivity for terrestrial fauna species as part of future potential rail infrastructure in the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor. It should be noted that any provision of a tunnel would reduce ecological impacts substantially in the area in which the tunnel was constructed. Opportunities to further avoid and minimise impacts would be considered during the next phase of design development. Security fencing to ensure public safety will also be a consideration as part of the future detailed design of the railway infrastructure.

About the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor

The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor is a future rail corridor dedicated to freight between Fassifern on the Main North Railway line, and the Hunter Valley Rail Line at Hexham. This vital transport corridor will provide for an essential freight rail connection to support growing communities, businesses and industries.

It is generally 60 metres wide, excluding sections in tunnel, to accommodate two new rail tracks and supporting infrastructure. The future infrastructure may not require the full width of the corridor, which will depend on future infrastructure development and an environmental assessment process.

The Hunter region is an important hub for freight transport in NSW and plays a major role in supporting freight movement between Greater Sydney, Northern NSW, and Queensland. Newcastle Port is identified as an international trade gateway with an annual trade worth about $25 billion to the NSW economy. This growth and future demand for freight rail services will place increasing pressure on the existing rail network.

This is a NSW Government initiative to separate freight and passenger rail operations through Newcastle in order to improve reliability and capacity on both freight and passenger rail networks. A dedicated freight rail line will help businesses and industry move freight more efficiently, and support economic growth across the Hunter region.

Removing freight services along the passenger rail line will allow for additional passenger rail services to connect communities with jobs and services. Most importantly, it will improve amenity for the local communities.

A number of corridor options have been identified and assessed with consideration to the technical investigations that have been undertaken. This process helped the project team identify a long list and short list of options assessed against a wide range of key considerations that affect the best place to locate future transport infrastructure, including identification and consideration of:

  • Existing and future residential land uses
  • Biodiversity and conservation
  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage
  • Existing landscape and geography including contamination
  • Existing bodies of water including floodplains
  • Potential noise and vibration impacts
  • Visual impact
  • Transport planning needs, and
  • Socio-economic impacts.

These key considerations have been analysed by subject matter experts to identify the best performing option which minimises impacts to sensitive areas, communities, and existing infrastructure.

Over the next 30 years Newcastle’s population is expected to grow from around 575,000 people to around 760,000. The increase in population will also place greater demand for more housing and jobs closer to home. Currently, over 1,500 residential lots are planned on 517 hectares of land near Minmi. In addition to residential development, plans for two large industrial estates, adjacent to the M1 Motorway and John Renshaw Drive at Black Hill, have been submitted.

This growth will continue across the Newcastle area. Identifying a dedicated freight rail corridor now ensures land will be available to deliver the infrastructure in the future and when it is needed. Early planning for the future freight rail line also ensures development for new housing and employment hubs can continue to occur around an identified freight corridor.

There is still a lot of work to be done before a final corridor can be confirmed. At this stage, we are consulting with stakeholders, landowners and communities on the identified recommended corridor. Feedback from the consultation together with further technical investigations will help refine and inform the final corridor location for future freight use.

Future population growth and changes in industrial development will drive an increase in the movement of passengers and freight through the Hunter Region and trigger the need for additional infrastructure. The forecast growth in rail freight along the corridor between Fassifern and Newcastle is expected to drive demand for an additional 66 freight train paths per week in both directions over the next 36 years.

The Future Transport 2056 strategy has identified the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor for potential delivery within 10-20 years.

The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor will provide for a dedicated freight rail line between Fassifern and Hexham, removing freight rail services from Main North Railway line along Newcastle’s urban area. Planning for a dedicated freight rail corridor will ensure future forecasted freight rail needs can be accommodated. Most importantly, the corridor will improve reliability and increase capacity on both the freight and passenger rail networks.

A dedicated freight rail line will also encourage road freight onto rail to reduce road congestion, and reduce delays for road users at level crossings near St James Road, Adamstown and Clyde Street, Islington.

At this time, funding has been allocated to identify a suitable corridor of land for the Lower Hunter Freight corridor. There is still a lot of work to be done before we can confirm the final Lower Hunter Freight Corridor for future use. The Future Transport 2056 strategy has identified the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor for potential delivery within 10-20 years.

Transport for NSW has been working with the Aboriginal community to identify sites of Aboriginal cultural significance. This is part of the Aboriginal cultural values assessment across Newcastle region. The study area includes the traditional lands of the Awabakal people. A number of areas of significance were identified including ceremonial areas near the head of Hexham Swamp, pathways between Mount Sugarloaf and Hexham Swamp, Hexham Swamp itself and the headwaters of Cockle Creek.

We will continue to work with the Aboriginal community and Local Aboriginal Land Councils to identify and document culturally significant areas.

Community Consultation

Early consultation for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor was undertaken as part of the development for the NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023. Transport for NSW held consultation over a four month period, inviting feedback from the community, industry, and government. Key feedback captured from the consultation period included requests for increased investment in freight infrastructure, improved access to Newcastle Port and a dedicated freight rail network that does not need to compete with passenger rail traffic.

The NSW Government is committed to the safety of its customers and employee when it comes to complying with Public Health Orders about the spread of Covid-19. Transport for NSW Communications and community engagement will be carried out in ways to ensure the stakeholders, landowners and community can practice social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Stakeholders, landowners and communities are encouraged to share their local knowledge of the area and provide feedback on the identified recommended Lower Hunter Freight Corridor.

The consultation process will help to identify further constraints and opportunities that will need to be considered before a final corridor is determined.

Feedback from the consultation together with the outcomes of the technical investigations will help inform the final corridor location.

All submissions will be reviewed. All submissions will form part of our Community Consultation report and you will be advised when it is released.

If DPIE supports the Strategic Environmental Assessment, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces then rezones the recommended transport link and the rezoning of the land has immediate effect.

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment have released the Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor with regards to the rezoning of the land.

Corridor Preservation

A transport corridor is a parcel of land used to deliver future infrastructure such as new roads and rail lines. Planning for transport corridors is a process to identify land for infrastructure in the future, and when it is needed. Technical investigations are undertaken to determine the suitability of the land and to also assess for impacts to adjoining land uses.

The corridor identification process is important to ensure there is planning for the transport needs of growing communities, businesses, and industries who all rely on different types of transport modes. Identifying land now allows for land use planning and development to proceed with certainty, and ensures good transport links are planned to keep our communities and industries connected.

Corridor preservation is the process of reserving land needed for future transport links.

The corridor preservation process identifies and secures land needed for future infrastructure, such as roads and rail lines, before competing development comes along in a way that would prevent the land from being available for future transport infrastructure.

Corridor preservation is important when planning for the needs of growing communities and industries, to accommodate commuters, workers, businesses and industries who all rely on different types of transport modes. Planning the necessary future transport links now ensures that as NSW grows, communities will have access to transport